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Posted On 12/13/2018 16:48:05
Trip Date 10/13/2018
Camping | New Mexico | Sandoval County | Cochiti Lake | RV Camping in New Mexico | Corps of Engineers Camping in New Mexico | RV Sites near Albuquerque | Camping near Santa Fe
Being late to the game for reserving a campsite in Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend the
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, we searched for a site in some nearby cities.
Recreation Area is just over an hour outside of the city, we can confirm that the drive is not
too difficult - even late
at night or early in
If you are in search of a location to camp in New Mexico near either Albuquerque or
Santa Fe, continue
reading this post for a review of our three night stay. We'll let you know what amenities to expect
at the park and
provide you with an overview of the campsites including our favorites.
Campground Amenities at Cochiti Recreation Area
Located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cochiti Recreation Area is a U.S. Army Corps of
campground with 80 campsites plus a group camping loop. In addition to camping, this year-
round facility on the west
side of Cochiti Lake offers a variety of recreational activities to campers as well as day use
guests between April
15 and October 15. (Although we did not have the time to visit, Tetilla Peak Recreation
Area is located on the
east side of the lake. Open from April to October, this sister property also offers camping along
with slightly more
limited recreational activities for guests.)
Entrance to Cochiti Recreation Area
For visitors who enjoy water sports, the no-wake lake has a swim beach, a multi-lane boat ramp
and a variety of fish for
those hoping to catch their dinner. In addition to motor and sailboating, the lake is suitable for
rafting, sailboarding and windsurfing. (Wearing a life jacket is required for anyone using an
inflatable device of any
kind.) Catfish, crappie, pike, trout and more are reportedly caught in the waters of Cochiti Lake
(state fishing license
For those preferring land based activities, Cochiti Recreation Area has covered picnic tables in the
day use area. There
are opportunities for viewing the variety of plants and animals who call the area home including
those living on or near
the nature trail which begins at the nearby Cochiti Lake Visitor Center. Between the Park
Headquarters / Visitor
Center and the Recreation Area is an overlook providing some great views of the water and
mountains surrounding the
Cochiti Lake from Overlook
Cochiti Lake Recreation Area Camping from Overlook
Although at or very near capacity during our visit, the Recreation Area was clean during our three
day stay. There are
dumpsters located throughout the park as well as bathhouses in or near each of the camping
loops. As the bathhouse in
our area was closed during our stay, we did not have the time to go inside any of the toilet or
shower facilities to
comment on their cleanliness or need for any maintenance.
The total cost for our three night stay in Juniper Loop was $60.00. While day-use only
guests are assessed a
fee of $5.00 per vehicle, there is no additional daily use fee for those camping in the campground.
Campsite Amenities at Cochiti Recreation Area
After turning off Highway 22 toward Cochiti Recreation Area, visitors quickly approach a Visitor
Administration Office. As there is no signage indicating whether check-in for campers is located in
this building or
elsewhere, Scott pulled in and waited while I went inside. After talking to a very nice employee, it
was quite obvious
that he had been approached by many others wondering the same thing. (Maybe some simple
campers to the entrance station further up the road would eliminate the confusion!)
Sites 1 - 34 located in Juniper Loop all have 30- and 50-amp electric hookups. As
water is shared among
sites in the loop, it is recommended that campers come equipped with a 100 foot hose to ensure
the ability to reach a
water spigot from their site.
While both Elk Run Loop (sites 35 - 50) and Ringtail Cat Loop (67 - 80) have
shared water spigots,
neither offer electricity for campers.
Buffalo Grove Loop is home to sites 51 - 66, the premier sites in the campground,
with both on-site electric
Although there are some trees in the campground, none are suitable for hanging hammocks.
Dumpsters are located
within each camping loop, and all loops share a trailer dump station located on the main road
leading to all camping
loops (near the Campground Host).
As instructed by the gentleman with whom I spoke, we continued down the road, passing the
closed Camping Entrance
Station and straight to Juniper Loop, the location of our reserved campsite. While all sites in the
loop have on-site
electric, the connections at some are very inconveniently located. All campsites in the loop were
clean and each has
either a grill or fire ring as well as at least one picnic table (some covered and others not). Each
site has a paved
parking area with some being significantly more level than others.
On a positive note, site 15 (which we had pre-reserved online) has both 30- and 50-amp electric,
parking, two concrete picnic tables (uncovered), a grill and a relatively nice view. Although the
site is sloped toward the
front, it was fairly easy to level with our stabilizer jack. The downside is that our 33' long RV had
to be parked at an
angle with the trailer's rear hanging off of the pavement to reach the electric connection with a
standard power cord.
(The poorly located electric hook-up is on the opposite side of standard RV hook-ups and stands
higher than the
pavement on a small hill.)
As we didn't like the arrangement of the site features, we actually moved to a different site that
was not labeled as being
"reserved". Unfortunately when we reported our move to the Campground Host, we learned that
the site had not been
properly labeled and was indeed pre-reserved. As there were no other sites available for three
nights, we quickly filled
our water tank and returned to our original campsite - just moments before the family with the
site reservation arrived!
Juniper Loop, Site 15 at Cochiti Recreation Area
Amenities and View from Juniper Loop Site 15 at Cochiti Recreation Area
We both had good phone and data service through our two cell phone carriers, Verizon and T-
Mobile. Additionally, a good
variety of broadcast television stations were available in the campground.
Favorite Campsites in Cochiti Recreation Area
The newest, most modern sites in the campground are all located in the well lit Buffalo Grove
Loop. All sites
have a newly paved level parking area, on-site electric and water, covered picnic tables and a grill.
In our opinion, any
site in this loop is preferable to sites in the other three loops. Should we have a choice of sites in
this loop, our favorites
located on the outside of the loop, pull-through site 51 with a great view of the water; and
pull-through sites 52, 54, 55 and 56, all located in the middle of the loop.
Although less modern than sites in either Elk Run Loop or Ringtail Cat Loop, our second choice
loop for camping would
likely be Juniper Loop due to on-site electric. Sites located nearest the shared water
spigots include sites 2, 3,
5, 6, 8, 11, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32 and 34. While the location of the electric
hook-up varies between
the sites and a limited number of sites have covered tables, our favorite sites in order of
pull-through site 7;
back-in sites 6, 20 or 32;
pull-through site 10; and
back-in sites 11 or 27.
Additionally, although the amenities at site 34 are conveniently located, it is in a higher traffic area
and parking at the
site is shorter than at our other preferred sites.
All sites in both Elk Run Loop and Ringtail Cat Loop are new and modern with
nicely paved level
parking. The sites in Elk Run Loop have lights, grills and covered concrete picnic tables.
Campsites located in Ringtail
Cat Loop also have grills and covered concrete picnic tables with lantern hooks in place of the
lights. As sites in both of
these loops share water and no sites in either loop have on-site electric, none of the sites make
our favorites list.
Site 46 in Elk Run Loop at Cochiti Recreation Area
Hiking near Cochiti Recreation Area
Due to our time being spent visiting Santa Fe and attending both a morning and evening
session of the
Balloon Fiesta, we did not have time for hiking during our stay at Cochiti Recreation Area.
In addition to the 2/3
mile Coyote Nature Trail which takes hikers from the Visitor Center to the Overlook or vice
versa, the much
longer "Nashroo" Trail is also located within the park.
Attractions near Cochiti Recreation Area
Cochiti Lake was named after the people living in the area for over 700 years, and the entire
Cochiti Recreation Area is
located within the boundaries of the Cochiti Pueblo. In addition to the cultural and historical
exhibits located in the
Visitor Center at the campground, there are some additional nearby attractions operated by the
the grounds of Pueblo de Cochiti where members of the Cochiti still live today. (As
some area Pueblo's
allow visitors, we did attempt to visit the Pueblo, however finally turned around after the road
conditions changed from
paved to gravel to dirt.);
Road Leading to Cochiti Pueblo
the Pueblo de Cochiti Golf Course is a public course located just a short distance north
of the Recreation
the highly recommended Tent Rocks, located a little further west of the campground,
limits the number of
individuals allowed into the site at one time. We attempted to enter so we could do some hiking
and climbing, however
upon our 1:00 PM arrival on October 12, the maximum capacity had been reached. With our
planned afternoon trip to
the Balloon Fiesta, we turned around as the estimated wait time to enter the natural area was one
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Cochiti Recreation Area is located about 50 miles from Albuquerque, the site of one of the biggest
hot air balloon
festivals in the world. If you are considering a trip to New Mexico to attend the Albuquerque
Fiesta, stop back soon to see our post titled Tips for a Visit to the Albuquerque International Balloon
Fiesta. In addition to
photos from our 2018 attendance at the Fiesta, you'll find helpful tips about tickets, parking and
more, plus what to
expect during morning and evening events.
Lodging for Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
In your opinion, where is the best place to stay (hotel, campground, RV park, etc.) during the
Balloon Fiesta ... and when do you recommend making reservations in order to guarantee
Created On 12/08/2018 00:53:41
Updated On 12/26/2018 10:20:37
Scheduled On 12/08/2018 09:48:05
Posted On 12/13/2018 16:48:05
Last Editor Stacy
Location Cochiti Lake, Cochiti Lake, NM, United States